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Safety-net hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe go private

Kate Archer Kent

Handshakes, hugs and thank yous marked the Oct. 1 handover of LSU Hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe to the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana or BRF. Under a privatization deal pushed by the Jindal administration, BRF now manages the hospitals with 3,200 employees. BRF president Dr. John George told an overflow crowd in the Biomedical Research Institute Atrium Tuesday that it’s a new day for these north Louisiana hospitals to control their own destiny.

“We don’t have the excuse that we’re constrained by the state. We are it. We make sure our paychecks get paid. We make sure we make the decisions. We make sure that we give good healthcare. We do those things, and we can’t blame anybody but us if they fail," George said, following a ceremony to promote the new community-based academic medical center partnership.

With more than 600 pages of legal documents in connection with the management change, BRF chairman Steve Skirvanos said now the hospital holding company can shift focus to refine healthcare delivery. The BRF has never run a patient-care facility. He said the BRF made certain on Oct. 1 there was a continuity of care and employees were paid. As state-run hospitals there were about 2,600 levels of job positions. Now, according to Skirvanos, that’s been cut to 400.

"As we’ve condensed all those positions some people may have gotten some more money. Some may have not. But, generally it will be about the same. The benefits will be slightly less, I’ll grant you that, under the private pay, but mostly it has to do with holiday pay," Skirvanos said.

LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport will remain a part of the public LSU System. Chancellor Dr. Robert Barish said now that this deal is done he will focus on the reaccreditation of the medical school which comes up in January. The hospitals have been renamed University Health and University Health Conway.